The Elder Gods have mostly human-like appearance and they are benevolent in nature. In different parts of the world such as Egypt, Mesoamerica, and the Mediterranean they were worshipped by ancient humans. Nowadays, they are remembered as the gods in just about every ancient race, including Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Aztec, and many others.
The Great Old Ones refer to the Elder Gods as the "Pain Lords".
|“||They came down out of the star-spaces unto this Earth, so that They might deal a grim and heavy judgement upon their former servants; and They went to and fro upon the Earth, terrible in Their wrath, like unto mighty Towers of Flame that walked like Men. Yea and verily was it writ of old, Terrible be the Elder Gods in Their wrath in the Hour of Their coming-hence.||„|
|~ Necronomicon quote , EXP: "The Horror in the Gallery"|
The Elder Gods are said to be the former lords of the Great Old Ones. While some have specific appeareances, like Nodens, most or them are described as "terrific Towers of Flame". In the Zanthu Tablets, titular Zanthu enrages the Elder Gods when he manages to break one of Ythogtha's chains, thus being able to see them when they descend to Earth. (EXP: "The Thing in the Pit")
They are said to rule in the star Glyu-Vho (Betelgeuse), from which they watch the Earth eternally. (AWD: The Lurker at the Threshold)
In the Unaussprechlichen Kulten, it is said that both the Earth and the Elder Gods originate from a nameless dimension in which they ruled supreme. They created Azathoth and Ubbo-Sathla as slaves, so they would create a race of servants. Ubbo-Sathla, in an act of rebellion, stole the Elder Records, a library of tablets that contained various knowledge of the Elder Gods. Ubbo-Sathla invoked the powers he learned from the tablets, and thus the Earth fell from its original plane into the actual universe. (EXP: "The Horror in the Gallery")
Not long after, the Elder Gods entered the universe and instaured their power in Betelgeuse. They broke into a war with the Great Old Ones, standing victorious and imprisoning them in the Earth or other planets and dimensions. (AWD: The Lurker at the Threshold, EXP: "The Horror in the Gallery")
It is prophecied in the Necronomicon that the Great Old Ones shall break free when "the Cycle returneth", and the Elder Gods shall war with them once more. (AWD: The Lurker at the Threshold)
|“||Then shal They return & on this great Return'g shal ye Great Cthulhu be fre'd from R'lyeh beneath ye Sea & Him Who Is Not To Be Nam'd shal come from His City which is Carcosa near ye Lake of Hali, & Shub-Niggurath shal come forth & mulitiply in his Hideousness, & Nyarlathotep shal carry ye word to all the Gr. Old Ones & their Minions, & Cthugha shal lay His Hand upon all that oppose Him & Destroy, & ye blind idiot, ye noxious Azathoth shal arise from ye middle of ye World where all is Chaos & Destruction where He hath bubbl'd & blasphem'd at Ye centre which is of All Things, which is to say Infinity, & Yog-Sothoth, who is ye All-in-One & One-in-All, shal bring his globes, & Ithaqua shal walk again, & from ye black-litt'n caverns within ye Earth shal come Tsathoggua, & togeth'r shal take possession of Earth and all things that live upon it, & shal prepare to do battle with ye Elder Gods when ye Lord of ye Great Abyss is apprised of their return'g & shal come with His Brothers to disperse ye Evill.||„|
|~ AWD: The Lurker at the Threshold|
List of Elder Gods
- Adaedu (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Alithlai Tyy (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Bast (CIRCLE: "The Suicide in the Study", "The Mannikin", "The Brood of Bubastis")
- Dveahtehs (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Eppirfon (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Eyroix (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Hypnos (HPL: "Hypnos")
- Kthanid (EXP: The Transition of Titus Crow, The Clock of Dreams)
- Orryx (CIRCLE: "The Lair of the Star-spawn", EXP: The Creature Companion (RPG supplement))
- Othkkartho (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Ovytonv (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Oztalun (CIRCLE: "Ascharia", EXP: "The Bane of the Byagoona", "The Star-Seed")
- Nodens (HPL: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", "The Strange High House in the Mist", EXP: "The House of the Worm", "Glimpses", Nightside of Eden, "A Priestess of Nodens", "Parting the Veil")
- Paighon (EXP: "The Barrett Horror")
- Shavalyoth (CIRCLE: "Ascharia", EXP: "The Bane of the Byagoona")
- Sk'tai (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Ulthar (EXP: "The Sussex Manuscript", A Guide to the Cthulhu Cult)
- Urthuvn (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Vorvadoss (CIRCLE: "The Eater of Souls", "The Invaders", EXP: "The Star-Seed", "Wizards of Hyperborea")
- Xislanyx (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Xuthyos-Sihb'Bz (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
- Yad-Thaddag (EXP: Elysia)
- Yaggdytha (EXP: "The Star-Seed", "The Advent of Uvhash", "The Bane of the Byagoona")
- Zehirete (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)
Behind the Mythos
In stories written after Lovecraft's death, the Elder Gods oppose the Outer Gods and the Great Old Ones. August Derleth attempted to retroactively group the benevolent deity Nodens in this category (who acts as deus ex machina for the protagonists in both "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" and "The Strange High House in the Mist").
Robert M. Price postulated that a "Reformist" group of Elder God worshippers had tampered with many Mythos books to make them more pro-Elder God in tone. Reformist Theology of the "benign" Elder Gods as creator beings and the "evil" Old Ones as rebellious slaves who were imprisoned after a “war in heaven” to protect Mankind.
After Derleth's death many writers have moved away from this Duelist notion, either ignoring the Elder Gods or suggesting that they have an agenda as inimical to mankind as the Great Old Ones themselves.
As for Great Old Ones, Joseph S. Pulver mentions in his "Nightmare Disciples" (2006) a series of original Elder Gods, though lacking of any description about their true form. The story introduces entities as Adaedu, Alithlai Tyy, Dveahtehs, Eyroix,Ovytonv, Urthuvn, Xislanyx and Xuthyos-Sihb’Bz. Others have a cult title as Othkkartho (Sire of the Four Titans of Balance and Order), which is said to be Nodens's son, and Zehirete, who is The Pure and Holy Womb of Light. Sk’tai and Eppirfon are brothers and the former (female) has been Cthulhu's second bride who bore him a son, T'ith, now dead, murdered by Cthulhu himself.
Another Elder God with no description is Walter C. DeBill, Jr.'s Paighon, an extra-galactic entity which now dwells in the Earth's core, said to be inimical to the Outer God Ngyr-Korath and its servitor Ymnar.